Kadapa: Sharmila struggling in cousin vs cousin joust

Andhra Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy's sister Hoping to wrest the YSR legacy, does not have any base here, as she has been living in Hyderabad all along.
Kadapa: Sharmila struggling in cousin vs cousin joust
Illustration: Mandar Pardikar

KADAPA : Kadapa is witnessing a legacy joust between two cousins of a politically influential family — one of whom is a first-timer — and a triangular contest in the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections.

Incumbent Y S Avinash Reddy belongs to the Y S Rajashekara Reddy family tree. He is the cousin of YSR’s son and Chief Minister Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy, who floated his own YSR Congress. The Congress pitted Jagan’s sister Y S Sharmila Reddy against Avinash.

Ever since 1989, when Rajasekhara Reddy won the Kadapa Lok Sabha seat, the contest here has only been about the YS family’s victory margin. This is the first time two members of the YS family are vying for the top honours.

One of the backward districts in the Rayalaseema region, Kadapa witnessed a spurt in development after Rajasekhara Reddy became CM as he ensured a steady flow of funds for the family pocket borough.

The only time the TDP won the seat was in 1984 when D Narayana Reddy wrested it at the height of the N T Ramarao wave. Like Sharmila, TDP’s candidate Chadipiralla Bhupesh Subbarami Reddy, too, is a first-timer. However, he hasn’t been suddenly parachuted into Kadapa like her. Subbarami Reddy has silently been preparing the ground for the past several months.

The downside for Avinash Reddy is that he is an accused in the murder case of his uncle and former minister Y S Vivekananda Reddy. But he has the solid backing of Jagan. Avinash has stayed put in the constituency since the past several months to ensure there is no dent in his influence. His victory margin last time was over three lakh votes.

Speaking to TNIE, Avinash said spent his MPLADS (Members of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme) allocation and CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) funds generated from various corporates for the development in all assembly segments falling under his constituency. “I also took the initiative to get funds from the state government for implementing various projects in all segments,” he said.

As for Sharmila, she does not have any base here, as she has been living in Hyderabad all along. Hoping to wrest the YSR legacy, she claims her father was a tall Congress leader, but Jagan left it and floated his own regional party.

However, the argument doesn’t seem to be cutting ice with the people.

Sharmila campaigns around Viveka murder

“Had she joined the Congress two years ago, it could have been different. She joined it just before the elections and the party is weak in Kadapa at present,” opined K Venkatarami Reddy, a rice trader in Kadapa.

M Srinivasulu, a 45-year-old hotelier in Kadapa, opined that the TDP did nothing for the district, adding development happened during YSR and Jagan’s rule. That Jagan supports the accused in the murder of Vivekananda Reddy is a point of resentment. “However, people would only see who developed the region and not other issues,” he said.

“Avinash Reddy is only an accused, not a culprit. The law will take its course,” said K Nataraju, mandi merchant in Yerramukkalapalle of Kadapa.

Most of Sharmila’s speeches revolve around two issues - Avinash getting the YSR Congress ticket despite being an accused in an five-year-old murder case, and criticism of Jagan’s rule. Sharmila tries to strike a chord with the voters telling them "I am begging you to vote for me."

“Lack of progress in solving the murder case will have an impact on the elections and benefit the Congress,” claims Bhupesh Reddy, nephew of former minister C Adinarayana Reddy, who crossed over to the BJP. The TDP hopes to benefit from the vote split for the YS family. “Anti-incumbency combined with an attractive manifesto of the TDP and its allies is an advantage,” Subbarami Reddy said.

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